Developing Satisfying Relationships
While we put in the work to build an alcohol-free life for ourselves, first and foremost, our experience living without booze becomes a much richer experience when we’re able to share our shiny, new, teetotaling self with others in deep, reciprocal relationships. This period of transition becomes a wonderful opportunity to take a look at our existing relationships, evaluate what we desire out of those relationships, and find new connections that enrich our alcohol-free life.
What does a satisfying relationship look like?
Today, take some time to reflect about the qualities and characteristics you desire out of your relationships. What kind of relationships have made you feel empty, unfulfilled in the past? What kind of relationships added value, joy, and reciprocity to your life in the past? What did they look like—how did you participate in those relationships, how did the other person participate? What kind of soul-gifts did each of you exchange, what was the energy of the relationship?
When understanding how we operate in a relationship, and what types of energy we respond to well, it can be helpful to take a look at what our “love language” looks like. This doesn’t have to be applied to just romantic relationships—understanding your love language is helpful in all relationships. Coined by Gary Chapman in his book The 5 Love Languages, the five different types are:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
When we know our own love language, and the love language of the other person in the relationship, we are better able to give and receive energy within that unique container. If we know that our love language is Words of Affirmation, we know that we crave verbal signs of friendship, verbal confirmation that they enjoy our company and value our time together. Labels like “best friend” are important to us, for example. When we make this known to our platonic or romantic partner, they can better understand us. Similarly, if we know that Quality Time is our partner’s love language, we can put in effort to provide that to them.
Thus builds a satisfying relationship, where there is an equal exchange of energy. Mutual respect, honoring each other’s time and energy, providing support and reciprocity, and creating joy and satisfaction. When these pieces are off balance, we find ourselves in an unsatisfying relationship.
Now consider the existing relationships in your life; where do they fall? Do they feel equal, respectful, an even exchange of emotional and physical energy? Or do they feel strained one way or the other? When we find an unequal, unsatisfying relationship, we don’t necessarily have to cut them out of our life, but our emotional wellbeing will be better attended to if we address the inequity.